FOX Will Use Fake Crowd Noise and Virtual Fans During NFL Games, Says Play-by-Play Announcer Joe Buck

When and if professional sports are allowed to resume nationwide, in all likelihood they will have to do so behind closed doors as part of the ongoing effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

While watching NBA or MLB without fans would make for a weird experience, nowhere would the impact of playing behind closed doors be felt more than in football.

Imagine the Kansas City Chiefs playing without Arrowhead Stadium's deafening din in the background, or the New Orleans Saints welcoming rivals at a muted Superdome. Those are the alien realities of an atmosphere devoid of fans whenever the NFL season will kick off as the league remains confident the campaign will get underway as planned on September 10.

FOX Sports broadcaster Joe Buck, however, suggested that the NFL and TV networks have already drawn up contingency plans to mitigate the lack of fans in the stadiums.

Specifically, the lead play-by-play voice for NFL and MLB on FOX Sports hinted the channel would add imitation crowd noises to its broadcast to give games at least a resemblance of atmosphere.

"There's probably going to be a season in doing games with no fans, which will be difficult," Buck told Sirius XM's Andy Cohen Live show on Wednesday. "I think FOX and these networks have to put crowd noise under us to make it a normal viewing experience at home."

When asked by Cohen to elaborate, Buck suggested the decision to use crowd noises had in fact already been taken.

"It's pretty much a done deal," he continued. "I think whoever is going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field. So it's really important."

Crowd noises without an actual crowd may make the viewing experience even weirder, but Buck suggested TV networks were considering ways to address the issue by having virtual fans in the stadiums.

"On top of that, they're looking at ways to put virtual fans in the stands, so when you see a wide shot it looks like the stadium is jam-packed and in fact it'll be empty," he explained.

Virtual fans in the stadiums may sound like an absurd gimmick, but football and sports as a whole will have to get creative over the coming months to minimize the impact of playing behind closed doors.

Some NFL teams may even follow the example set by Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach, which has fitted its stadium with over 4,500 life-size cut-outs of fans.

Germany's top-flight soccer league will become the first major European league to return to action when it resumes proceedings on Saturday and Monchengladbach have come up with an interesting solution to address the lack of fans in the stands.

On top of the 4,500 cut-outs already installed, the club has ordered a further 12,000, which should be in place in time for next week. Monchengladbach have an away game on Saturday.

Fans can pay for their own cut-outs at a cost of $20, with all proceedings going to local charities.

Kansas City Chiefs, fans
Kansas City Chiefs fans cheer on their team against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 12 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jamie Squire/Getty